Category: AR

Rep. Harris Leading Gingrich Effort in Arkansas

According to NWA Online, Arkansas state representative Justin Harris (R-West Fork) is now heading up the effort for GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich in the state, serving as chairman.

As I reported last month, Harris was previously one of the 19 Arkansas legislators to ask Rick Perry to join the presidential race, but withdrew support from Perry last month after the Texas governor’s statements about immigration.

Harris tells NWA Online that he believes Gingrich knows how to fix things and has the ability to bring the country together.

To my knowledge, he is the first state legislator in Arkansas to publicly endorse Gingrich.

Nic Horton

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Reader: “We Are Taxed to Death”

Letter to The Patriot

Quite frankly, I am not a tax guy.  As a businessman, I can tell you:  we are taxed to death.  Most of the overbearing taxes come from the federal government & the state, but if we are not careful, we will soon be overloaded at the local level too.   I can also tell you that when times are tough, we all have to tighten our belts.  The government should too, especially in this economy.

I’ve kept a close ear to the talk about the White County bypass tax that is coming up for a vote on September 13th.  I’ve followed the comments from public officials in the paper & read local websites that have voiced opposition.  I see some benefits to the bypass itself, but not if it requires a tax.  The secret is that it doesn’t: the county has plenty of money.

The county has more than enough money to pay for the bypass project, with nearly $12 million in the bank and close to $2 million that will come in this year from property taxes, according to the July County Treasurer’s report.

I also have a problem with the county asking for $18 million in new taxes when the cost of the project is only $6 million.  Instead of just taking what they need, they are using the extra $12 million to string the mayors of this county along with carrots on sticks, promising them kickbacks from the tax in exchange for their support.  This is no way to run a county & no way to spend The People’s money.

At the end of the day, we have plenty of taxes and plenty of money in the county reserves.  What we need is more leadership.

Bill Haynie

Searcy

White County Taxpayers: Why are You Paying to Promote a Tax Increase?

Last week, the local paper reported that the White County government had hired a Searcy resident to promote the Searcy Bypass tax proposal (set for a vote on September 13th).

That’s right:  you, the taxpayers, are paying someone to convince you that you need to give them (the government) more of your money.

According to other reports, this “Economic Development Liaison,” Jim House of Searcy, is being paid $2,000 per month by the county government.  (Citizens for Responsible Taxation is working to confirm this amount)

The county judge and proponents of the tax have said that House is being paid only to liaise between the judge and the mayors, that he only “volunteers” to promote the tax.  Well, he sure has spent a lot of time and effort “volunteering” in the last few weeks.  Stop insulting the intelligence of the people of this county:  Jim House is being paid to promote this tax increase.

When a friend of mine learned of this situation, he remarked, “This is The Beast feeding The Beast” or “government feeding itself.”  I nodded in agreement.

But then I got to thinking about it.  He’s wrong.  This isn’t The Beast feeding The Beast.  This is you feeding The Beast.  This is your money being spent, without your direct consent, to promote an effort to take more of your money.

After inquiring with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, I can say that these actions do appear to be legal—but are they morally sound?

Is it moral for government to spend your money in this way?  We know there are ethics laws that keep city or county employees from promoting a government agenda while on the job.  How is this situation any different?

Some members of the quorum court have reported to CRT that there is $30,000 in the county’s “economic development” account.  It has also been indicated that Mr. House will stay on staff after the election to continue promoting “economic development” around the county.  Is this full $30,000 for him?  Are we going to spend $30,000 on an Economic Development Liaison with no actual economic development experience?

Regardless of where you stand on the bypass or on the tax itself, can’t we all agree that this is an improper use of our money?  Couldn’t that $30,000 be spent on improving our roads (a task that we are often told is neglected because of a “lack of revenue”)?

These are serious questions about the proper role & conduct of government, including a strong argument for serious reforms to Arkansas ethics laws.  I challenge every White County resident to consider these facts carefully & take a stand.

– Nicholas Horton, Chairman, Citizens for Responsible Taxation

The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly.  Contact The Patriot at arkansaspatriot@gmail.com 

Proposed Bypass Tax Plan: A Bailout for Searcy

Due to my temporary departure from Searcy & my developing distaste for local politics, I have remained silent on the issue of the proposed tax increase in White County in order to fund a new bypass around the city of Searcy.  After receiving a few requests for comment, I have decided to weigh in.

The picture to the right is particularly appropriate: it is important that every citizen of this county slow down & consider the facts of this proposal before voting.  This post will stick mainly to those facts, but I will follow up with a few more articles about the merits of the proposal and the perils of raising taxes at this time, in this economy.

I hope these articles will serve as a launching pad for a serious discussion on the facts.  I am not interested in mud-slinging or emotional arguments.  Every citizen owes it to themselves & their neighbors to analyze this issue thoroughly.  As John Adams said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

The facts

The White County Quorum Court voted at their last meeting 11-1 to send a tax increase proposal to the voters.  The special election will be September 13.  Bobby Burns (R-Beebe) was the lone dissenting vote.

*Note: JPs simply voted on the issue of placing the tax on the ballot, not for or against the tax itself.

The proposed bypass is a $60 million project, according to JP Cameron Cooper (R-Rose Bud), and the state is paying for 90% of it.  Apparently the remaining 10% of the cost is to be paid by White County residents.  Somewhere along the way, it was decided that Searcy would pay half of that cost (roughly $3,000,000).  Due to the reckless spending that the Searcy City Council has undertaken in recent years, which has been chronicled thoroughly on this site, Searcy cannot pay their part.  So now a plan has been devised to implement a county-wide 1% sales tax for 21 months.

That’s right.  The entire county will bear a tax burden because Searcy cannot meet their “obligations” and cannot get a tax passed on their own.  The county is essentially doing the city’s bidding for them.  This is essentially a bailout.

According to Cooper, the revenues would be divided up among the cities of White County on a per capita basis.  “7/8 of that must be used for infrastructure, specifically, roads, bridges, and drainage. 1/8 will be mandated for ‘economic development.’ ” And of course we know from past experience in our state that ‘economic development’ has been found to mean any number of things, including new football uniforms for a local high school & retirement benefits for quasi-governmental officials.

It is also important for the people of White County to know: the original bypass tax plan included a 0.5% tax.  This would have given the city of Searcy the full $3,000,000 they needed to pay their part.  However, it has been noted that the city council was unhappy with this amount and convinced the county to up-the-ante to a full 1%.  This gives them $3,000,000 to contribute and $3,000,000 to stuff the coffers.

This tax is estimated to bring in $18 million–but only $6 million is “needed” for the bypass.

Here is how the revenue would be distributed based on the projections:

White County: $9,002,287; Bald Knob: $726,351; Beebe: $1,834,055; Bradford: $190,300; Garner: $71,206; Georgetown: $31,090; Griffithville: $56,413; Higginson: $155,700; Judsonia: $506,214; Kensett: $413,195; Letona: $63,935; McRae: $170,995; Pangburn: $150,686; Rose Bud: $120,850; Russell: $54,157; Searcy: $5,731,076; West Point: $46,384.

So as you can see, Searcy will get close to $6,000,000, giving them enough to pay their $3 mil. and put nearly $3 mil. in the city coffers.  How will that money be spent?  Why do they need it?  And why should the entire county bear a tax burden to compensate for Searcy’s inability to meet their so-called obligations?

I will have more comments in the coming days on the merits of the proposal & what questions we need to be asking before the special election in September.  Regardless of where you stand on the bypass or taxes, there is much to be discussed about the way this particular tax has been structured.  I think it’s a discussion worth having.

Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot & former Searcy City Council candidate.  In his spare time, he volunteers for various political causes.  You can contact Nicholas at arkansaspatriot@gmail.com & follow him on Twitter.

Patriot Poll: Searcy Mayoral Race

The Daily Citizen has recently conducted two polls for the Searcy mayoral race.

There have been questions regarding the accuracy of both polls, with reports of non-Searcy residents & mayoral candidates themselves being polled.  There has also been at least one report of a voter being called & polled twice for the same survey.

Each poll has shown incumbent Mayor Belinda Laforce with a double-digit lead over former White County Judge David Morris & former Searcy Alderman Kyle Reeves, while a large number of Searcy (errrrr…wherever they’re from) voters remain undecided.

So, The Patriot has decided to settle the issue once and for all by conducting an equally accurate & scientific poll.

Happy voting.

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The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly.  The editor can be reached at arkansaspatriot@gmail.com Follow The Patriot on Twitter and Facebook.

Searcy Mayoral Race Attracts Two Candidates (So Far)

On the 18th of February, at the annual White County Lincoln Day Dinner, Kyle Reeves announced his intentions to run for Mayor of Searcy.  Reeves served one term on the Searcy City Council before seeking a job as State Representative, District 50 in 2008.  In a statement to The Patriot, Reeves said he is running for mayor to bring transparency to city hall. “In an attempt to get the A&P tax passed, the Current Mayor and Council have chosen to have a special election on April 13th at the cost of thousands of dollars to the tax payers, when they could have waited one month and spent only $250. It is obvious, that a political game to force ‘tax and spend’ agendas is being played at City Hall.” Continue reading

Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher in Searcy, January 26th

Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher is coming to Searcy.  Joe gained national attention during the 2008 Presidential election after a conversation with then-Senator Obama in which Senator Obama famously stated, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”  He went on to stump for McCain-Palin ticket, speaking on small businesses issues and taxes.

Joe will be in Searcy January 26th at the Lightle Center campaigning for Col. Conrad Reynolds for U.S. Senate.  The event begins at 7:30 p.m.


The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly.  The editor can be reached at arkansaspatriot@gmail.com Follow The Patriot on Twitter and Facebook.